The New England Patriots, one of the most explosive offensive juggernauts
in the NFL travel to Tampa to meet the perpetually rebuilding Buccaneers. NFL bettors take note: after resting their starters against Philly, the Pats are almost certainly loaded for bear.
New England Patriots (1-1)
decided to rest their key starters against the Eagles on Monday night, so the
second-stringers saw a majority of the action. The results weren't all that pretty as New England took an early lead
but then played catch-up throughout much of the second half and
ultimately bowed 27-17.
This game amply demonstrates the inherent problem in handicapping preseason games
too far in advance. In my previous
article, I picked the Patriots as 2 ½ point favorites predicated largely on what I assumed would be the efforts of Brady and company. I was
heartened to see the line spike to Pats -4, hoping my readers took advantage of
what I felt was a soft line. However,
once news broke late that coach Bill Belichick was going to rest Tom Brady, Wes
Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez on offense while
sitting defensive stalwarts Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo on defense, it became
clear that the home chalk was suddenly a home dog.
quarterback Ryan Mallet looked fairly poised in the pocket in the face of a
menacing Eagles pass rush, but second-string QB Brian Hoyer looked rattled
and completed only 5 of 17 passes for a meager 55 yards. He also fumbled deep in his own zone when he
was sacked by Phillip Hunt at the Patriots 12 yard line. A few plays later, the Eagles converted that
miscue into another touchdown on the scoreboard.
can forgive the loss due to key New England players sitting this one out, but the play of the offensive line was downright offensive. Nate Solder is being counted on to make the
move from right tackle to left and cover Brady's blindside, but the heir
apparent to Matt Light is having a world of problems, as is the rest of the
line. The other cause for pause is the
shoulder injury sustained by starting safety Patrick Chung. He was removed from the game and his status
is unknown as of this writing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
opened their preseason slate with a convincing 20-7 victory over the Dolphins, but then got trounced 30-7 by the Tennessee Titans last Friday night. Two first-half turnovers led to points on the
scoreboard for the Titans as the Bucs continued their storied tradition of
shooting themselves in the foot. Bucs
running back LeGarrette Blount left the game late in the second quarter
with a groin strain, but it appears he will be back in action for Friday night's
game against the Patriots.
tailback Doug Martin out of Boise State is making some noise for Tampa Bay and
could push Blount for the starting job. Bucs QB Josh Freeman had a thoroughly unspectacular outing on 4 of 10
passing for only 21 yards, but he did find Mike Williams in the endzone on a quick 2
yard pass. To be fair, most of the
Buccaneer starters were resting early in this one in order to give the backups
some playing time. Prized free agent
wide receiver Vincent Jackson was targeted four times by Freeman, but they
connected only once on an 8 yard screen pass. These two need to forge some sort of chemistry if the Bucs attack is to
have any chance of competing this season.
Unlike last week, there is no question the
Patriots starters will be getting their fair share of work. Week 3 of the preseason has traditionally
been the most heavily dosed week of starters, so we will be sure to see Tom
Brady working out the kinks and connecting with his vast array of weapons. I have no doubt the Pats starters are
champing at the bit to get it done against the Bucs. Let's view this as a regular season game and
watch the New England starters secure a big lead before handing it over to the
Pick: Pats -6